The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad reported he had a "constructive meeting" with senior Taliban leaders in Doha, including Mullah Baradar, and discussed with them issues related to the peace process including counter-terrorism, intra-Afghan talks and the withdrawal of US forces from the country under the peace agreement signed late February.
“I held three constructive meetings with Mullah Berader and members of the Taliban Political Commission. Emphasized the US-Taliban agreement is inter-connected: CT (counter-terrorism) commitments, intra-Afghan negotiations, troop withdrawal, & gradual violence reduction leading to a permanent ceasefire,” Khalilzad tweeted on Wednesday.
“On violence, I told the Talibs violence by all sides must fall. Innocent Afghans have borne far too much and for too long the costs of this war," Khalilzad tweeted.
On the US-Taliban agreement, ”the Taliban expressed their commitment to the agreement and its implementation," said Khalilzad. Regarding the missing Americans Mark Frerichs and Paul Overby, the Taliban said "they would do all they could to locate our citizens," according to Khalilzad.
"They will consult their leadership on the next step," tweeted Khalilzad.
Khalilzad also met with President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul and congratulated them on their agreement to form an inclusive government after proctracted negotiations.
“We discussed next steps required to implement the agreement between the two leaders. On peace, we agreed that violence is much too high and there is a need to move urgently to reduce it by all sides,” tweeted Khalilzad referring to his meeting with Ghani and Abdullah.
“We also agreed on the importance of delivering (and soon) on other commitments made in the US-Taliban agreement and US-Afghanistan joint declaration including release of prisoners by both sides and the start of intra-Afghan negotiations,” he said.
“In my meeting with Dr Abdullah, we discussed his plans for operationalizing his new role and will be working closely with him and his team,” stated Khalilzad.
“The US is prepared to partner with the new government in a peace process that ends the war. That process must be based on timely implementation of commitments made to date. Both leaders should not repeat mistakes in governing that existed under NUG, as Afghans negotiated this govt,” said Khalilzad.
The US peace envoy stated that “It is high time to take seriously the resolve of the Afghan people, and the world, to finally see an end to this conflict.
He said that Abdullah Abdullah must move forward with full speed and urgency, and he should be sincerely supported by the current Afghan government in his efforts.
Abdullah Abdullah in a statement said that during his meeting he expressed hopes for intra-Afghan talks to start in the near future.
“Thanking the US for its multifaceted support to Afghanistan, I stressed that peace is also an Afghan priority that will need stronger regional and international consensus as well as a reduction in violence and a ceasefire as fundamental steps for talks,” Abdullah said in a tweet after meeting with Khalilzad.
Khalilzad’s peace efforts come as the scale of violence has significantly increased in Afghanistan over the past few months and Afghan president Ghani recently ordered the country's armed forces to return to "offense mode" and defend the nation against potential threats.
Ghani’s decision came in the aftermath of series of deadly attacks in the country including an attack last Tuesday on a maternity hospital in Kabul which killed 24 people including women and babies.
The Taliban denied involvement, but the Afghan government said that Taliban had plotted the attack.
Meanwhile, in his Eid message, the Taliban’s top leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada called on the US to ensure the full implementation of the Doha peace agreement, and to prevent attempts by other parties who-- according to him--want to disrupt the peace process.
“We want to tell the US officials not to allow anyone to delay, restrict or scuttle the agreement between us and you--which also has international recognition. In the agreement, every issue has been explained in a clear manner, it has defined a good framework which is in the interest of the two nations in order to resolve the problems,” the Taliban’s message reads.